Early on in the race for governor, Carl Paladino's campaign admitted that he'd had an affair over ten years ago with an employee. The affair produced a daughter who Paladino kept secret from his wife until last year. The whole sordid tale was well known by the time Paladino's wife spoke about the affair and love child with the Times and the Post last week. But soon reporters started to pry further into Paladino's private life. His campaign alleges that a Post photographer placed his camera up against Paladino's daughter's bedroom window and "chased" her to a playground. The media was now taking way too much interest in Paladino's decade-old affair, especially when, Paladino said, they hadn't reported at all on Andrew Cuomo's affair. What, Cuomo had an affair? everyone asked. That has never been alleged before by anyone. When the Post's Fred Dicker demanded proof not an unreasonable request for someone lobbing such shocking accusations Paladino claimed that "of course" he had it and it would be forthcoming "at the appropriate time."
Apparently, that time is now. But the proof is ... nothing.
Paladino, speaking from his Buffalo office, said he has been subjected to so many questions about his personal life that he recently questioned whether the media, in fairness, is also posing personal questions to Cuomo.
However, Paladino said, he wasn't accusing Cuomo of having an extramarital affair.
"I'm sick and tired of people asking me about if I've had affairs," Paladino said. "I was talking to [a reporter with Politico.com] and said 'Why don't you ask Andrew Cuomo if he has had extramarital affairs. It's not that I was accusing him."
Actually that's not what happened, at all! Here's what Politico's Maggie Haberman says Paladino told her in their interview on Tuesday:
Immediately after saying he was surprised the press was going after people's children and saying, "They're innocents," Paladino volunteered, "Has anybody asked Andrew Cuomo about his paramours -" Caputo chimed in, "When he was married." Paladino added, "When he was married or asked him why his wife left him or threw him out of the house? Has anybody ever done that?" ....
I asked if it was ever proven that something had happened with Cuomo, adding that we knew his wife had had an affair, and Paladino said, "Want me to go get affidavits from the women? Is that what you want?”
I asked if he knew who the women were and he said, "Three of the four."
Well, we're no experts on what constitutes an accusation, but that is definitely an accusation. A very specific one. And what about that evidence that he promised to Fred Dicker during their amazing shouting match on Wednesday? According to the Buffalo News:
In addition, Paladino misspoke Wednesday night when telling a New York Post reporter that he would provide proof of a Cuomo affair "at the appropriate time," Paladino campaign manager Michael Caputo said today.
Paladino misunderstood the question he was being asked by New York Post reporter Fred U. Dicker, and the context of the question, Caputo said.
Dicker was very "in your face" and poking Paladino, Caputo said. Dicker, he said, was asking Paladino questions about an interview that appeared in Politico.com that Paladino had not seen.
A valiant effort, we guess, except that in an interview last night one in which nobody was "in his face" Paladino repeated his claim that "when we're good and ready we'll furnish" the proof of a Cuomo affair. It was apparently after this interview that the Paladino campaign decided to back down and pretend they had never started this unsubstantiated smear in the first place, despite all the evidence to the contrary.
The most bizarre part in all of this, though, may be that Paladino is now claiming that he has never even had an affair. In an interview with NY1 yesterday (he did a lot of interviews yesterday, none of which are helping him much), Paladino asked, "What affairs has [Cuomo] had? Obviously I haven't had any."
Put it all together and this is almost too much to comprehend. Publicly and repeatedly slandering your opponent and then pretending it never happened. Discussing the child you had with your mistress and then claiming you never had an affair. Not to mention telling anyone who gets on your bad side that they're "off the Christmas-card list." Is this a campaign for governor or some kind of mind-bending performance art? Are we on Punk'd?
Paladino says he's not accusing Cuomo of having had an affair [Buffalo News]
Paladino switches gears and course-corrects (Updated) [Maggie Haberman/Politico]